-- The specialized airline that has operated as Casino Express
since 1991 is gambling on a new strategy.
carrier, whose corporate name is TEM Enterprises, filed an
application with the Department of Transportation for rights to fly
from the U.S. to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico
under the name Xtra.
would be offered on 737 aircraft from Orlando and Atlanta to Costa
Rica and the Dominican Republic and to Cancun from Atlanta, Memphis
The airline said
it is working with a large travel agency, which it did not
identify, that desires to promote this operation and is helping to
defray the costs of initiating the service.
In addition to
support from the travel agency, TEM Enterprises got a boost from
foreign investment. Iceland-based Avion and Merkur, owned and
controlled by Icelandic citizen Magnus Thorsteinsson, owns 25% of
the voting shares and 49% of the total stock. Both percentages are
the maximum allowed under U.S. law for foreign ownership in U.S.
business as Casino Express, the airline operated domestic scheduled
service and domestic and foreign charters, primarily to serve the
needs of the hotel and casino operations in Elko, Nev. The former
parent of Casino Express, McClaskey Enterprises, started the
airline as a way to bring more customers to Elko, where McClaskey
But when the
ownership of the company was transferred in the summer of 2005 to a
group that included some of the airlines management, the new owners
decided to broaden the airlines scope to make it a
profit-generating, commercially driven operation, TEM Enterprises
told the DOT.
Theyll have to
hope it pays off: McClaskey has decided that chartering the Casino
Express flights is no longer worth the cost and ended the service
on Feb. 1.
reporter Andrew Compart, send e-mail to [email protected].